Despite the many reasons why people preach the use of Linux, actually going through with the switch is a completely different story. I know this only too well as I went through the exact same process before everything came together and I fell in love with Linux. However, I have to admit that it took a while with numerous attempts at using Linux for more than a week.
It’s not that Linux is hard to use or understand, but it simply doesn’t fit the Windows mindset that most people have. Expecting to do everything in Linux exactly like in Windows is where problems start appearing, which can easily deter a good number of users. Thankfully, there is now a Linux distribution that could make the process a whole lot easier.
About Zorin OS
Zorin OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, but besides identical packages and base system there are some major differences between the two. One of the major goals of Zorin OS is to offer a user interface that is similar to that of Windows, making Windows users feel more comfortable when they use Zorin OS. I must say that Zorin OS does a pretty good job with it.
You can download the ISO for Zorin OS by going to this page and downloading their “Core” ISO. The developers also offer lite and educational variations for you to download, but in most cases you’ll have the better experience with just the core. This review will focus on the Core edition.
Additionally you’ll find a Premium page where they offer you Ultimate, Business, Multimedia, and Gaming editions, which is mostly just the Core software with many additional applications for that type of system. The effort it takes to put all those extra programs into the ISO is why they charge for those editions.
Once you have your downloaded ISO burned onto a CD, written to USB, or ready to go for VirtualBox, you can boot straight into the live environment. Loading shouldn’t take very long, and in no time you’ll be presented with the Zorin OS desktop.
As you might recognize, the default look for Zorin OS mimics Windows 7 quite well. There are only a couple of shortcuts found on the desktop, and in the taskbar you’ll find the Start menu on the left (with Zorin OS branding, of course), the icon tray on the right, and then in the middle you’ll find the cool looking buttons that show which programs are currently open (do those even have a technical name?). Overall, it looks very much like Windows 7, which is very impressive.
If you actually click on the Start menu, you’ll see a lot more Windows 7-esque goodness. The Start menu, which appears to be GnoMenu with an appropriate theme, looks extremely similar to Windows 7′s Start menu. Keeping a small Linux touch, however, all programs in the left side of the menu are organized into the regular categories that regular Linux users are familiar with. There is also no “Recent Programs” list as is in Windows 7.
So all this stuff that looks a lot like Windows 7 is great for someone coming from Windows, right? Well what if they’re trying out Linux because Windows XP is starting to become very dated for an operating system? No need to worry there either. In the Control Center, there is a button called Look Changer, which will open a new window where you can choose between a Windows 7, Windows XP, and regular Linux Gnome desktop. With Windows XP available too, switching to Zorin OS is even easier for more people.
Zorin OS also comes with some pretty interesting default applications. Instead of Firefox as the default browser as is the case in all major distributions, Zorin OS chose Chrome in part due to its ever-increasing popularity. Many will enjoy this, while those that don’t will simply need to install their browser of choice. Not a hard thing to do. Zorin OS also includes Nautilus Elementary over Nautilus, which offers a tweaked user interface for a cleaner look. As for everything else, the usual applications that you would expect are included.
This interesting Linux distribution has some great incentives for Windows users to try out the Linux side of computing. Aside from all the differences between itself and Ubuntu, the rest is business as usual, letting you get work done like a pro.
What do you think about Zorin OS? Is it the best way for Windows users to try Linux? Let us know in the comments!